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    2018-2019 reviews:


    Clockwise from bottom right: Johnnie Cruise Mercer, Shiloh Hodges, Monstah Black, Benedict Nguyen, Alicia Dellimore & Joey Cuellar (center). in Hyperbolic!
    Photo by Peter Yesley
    Clockwise from bottom right: Johnnie "Cruise" Mercer, Shiloh Hodges, Monstah Black, Benedict Nguyen, Alicia Dellimore & Joey Cuellar (center).

    Living on the Edge of the World

    Monstah Black and dancers get Hyperbolic! at the Dixon Place Hot! Festival


    "What just happened?" (audience member 1, post-show) "A lot." (audience member 2) Hyperbolic! (the last spectacle) is Monstah Black's new onion-layered show for the Dixon Place Hot! Festival, which celebrates Queer culture, and the title works/werks.

    Choreography by: Monstah Black.
    Dancers: Monstah Black, Joey Cuellar, Alecia Dellimore, Shiloh Hodges, Johnnie "Cruise" Mercer, Benedict Nguyen.
    Music by: Monstah Black and the Illustrious Blacks.
    Costumes by: Monstah Black.
    Theatrical Direction: Monstah Black and Ashley Brockington.
    Script: Reginald Ellis Crump.
    Video editing: Wendell Cooper.
    Dixon Place
    July 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23

    Fabulous and frivolous laugh at each other and make us ponder which is which, in Hyperbolic!. Who's to say that making yourself into a work of art/putting on a show for the night is less important than waking up and getting to work the next day? Actually, hold off on answering that. Revel in the legit physical beauty of the six performers. Laugh at the preposterous — and brilliant — costumes they come up with. Marvel at the transformations that clothes — and strategic lack of clothes — can wring. Worry about — or enjoy — the precarious mix of alcohol, possibly party drugs, fragile egos and actual human emotions lurking under it all.

    About that onion. It'll make you cry if you let it get too close. Each layer seems transparent but is actually cloudy. Some layers are smooth, some are rough and some are slippery inside. And they're all the same. Or all different. Ah, life.

    Is Hyperbolic! essentially silly or using silliness to get at larger truths? What a silly question. This small group of friends are dressing up for the last party ever, inspired by the dream (nightmare?) of Tucker (yes, the names are descriptive). They're very close or almost completely unconcerned with each other. They dress up purely for fun and escape or see themselves as an army of fierce, armoring themselves against a horde of mediocrity.

    Weaving through character introductions and interactions/dramas are the songs of Monstah Black (aka Holiday Tahdah here), which are as whimsical and smart as the creatures onstage. They feel like fluff but have enough word fuel to seem deep, too. Joey Cuellar (Tucker), Johnnie "Cruise" Mercer (Desi/Trigger), Alecia Dellimore (Decay), Benedict Nguyen (Bubbles) and Shiloh Hodges (Geez Louise — SO well-named) fill out the cast, each perfect in his/her own way. Mercer wins Best Cackle, over and over, Cuellar wins the Drag Race, Nguyen wins Body, and Dellimore and Hodges win Female Beauty and favorite Moment — bathroom directions in awkward tension/conflict/signifying contest.

    The bigger Moment is more complicated. What really happens when the lights come on and the stage is bathed in white? Is it the harsh reality of the end of the night, a la London club lights-on time? Has the party moved to another dimension? Has the party died and gone to Heaven? More silly questions; there are no answers.

    There is a lot of production, action and collaboration in this "multi-dimensional work of art", and some key contributors are Manchild Black (music), Ashley Brockington (direction) and Wendell Cooper (video editing), all of whom probably share some credit with Monstah Black and the dancers for the smooth flow of the show. The "jellyfish" pulsing on the back wall as the performers slow-motion collapse into the post-apocalypse poses in which they started the show is a beautiful touch — mysterious, but beautiful, like much of the show.

    JULY 11, 2016

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